An ordinance before City Council on Oct. 13 to use Local Income Tax Revenues to buy the former Rescue Mission building at 301 W. Superior St. did not get enough votes for a do-pass recommendation. The request was for $1.2 million.
However, council members agreed to hold the bill for two weeks before taking a final vote on it.
The Rescue Mission moved into a new building downtown at 404 E. Washington Blvd., and the city planned to buy and raze the Superior Street building as part of its riverfront development plans. For the next couple of years, the city needs temporary Promenade Park parking. The current lot just east of the park will cease to be public parking soon, when construction on a mixed-use development begins there, explained Nancy Townsend, director of the city’s Community Development Division.
Councilman Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, asked why property on the south side of Superior Street was considered riverfront.
“That whole corridor is sort of the main street of the riverfront area,” Townsend said.
The property actually was appraised two or three years ago and came in significantly less – $870,000 to $880,000, Townsend said. Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, asked why the cost had gone up so much.
Townsend attributed it to the completion of Promenade Park and other planned downtown developments that are increasing property values in that area.
Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, D-6th , said she couldn’t support the purchase because “we have a responsibility to remember we have to do our sidewalks, streets and roads, too. … At some point we’ve got to own up to what we’ve been elected to do, which isn’t just focusing on purchasing items downtown.”
The vote came out of committee without a do-pass recommendation, with Ensley; Glynn Hines, D-at large, Russ Jehl, R-2nd; Jason Arp, R-4th; and Tucker voting no.
There may still be hope, however — the bill has been put on hold for two weeks.
Another acquisition fared better. Council was asked to approve using $468,000 in LOIT funds to purchase 7.59 acres of abandoned railroad tracks on the north side of Promenade Park for riverfront development. The land goes along the St. Marys River between Sherman and Third Street and will include a restroom for those using the park. The resolution passed 6-3.
Status of investigation
Given the fact that the Electric Works deal is once again “on,” council members decided to hold off on taking a vote that would give them investigatory powers over the project and the city’s role in it, including the mayor. They will revisit the issue Nov. 24.